Saturday, November 28, 2009

"The Hollow People"

Brian Keaney is a UK-based writer of fiction for children and young adults. He has written over one dozen novels and a number of plays.

He applied the Page 69 Test to The Hollow People, the first book in The Promises of Dr. Sigmundus series, and reported the following:
On page 69 of The Hollow People Bea, the female lead, is in trouble. Bea is the daughter of two doctors who work in an asylum for the criminally insane on the remote island of Tarnagar. It’s a small community where everyone knows everyone else, news spreads quickly, and gossip is rife.

The problem is this. Bea’s mother has heard that her daughter is having a relationship with a boy who works in the asylum kitchen. If this is true, it would be an absolute disgrace since rank and status is taken extremely seriously in this community.

As a matter of fact it is true. But it’s not the kind of relationship her mother suspects. This isn’t some schoolgirl crush. No, it’s worse, much worse. The kitchen boy, whose name is Dante, has told Bea a terrible secret – he still has dreams.

Tarnagar is a rigidly-controlled society. From the age of fourteen everyone is given a drug that makes them accept authority without question. They don’t rebel because they don’t even think about rebelling.

The drug works by removing people’s imaginations and one side-effect is that you no longer dream. So if Dante still has dreams, that can only mean one thing: the drug isn’t working on him. In a world of mental slavery, he is secretly free to think what he wants.

Why does this matter to Bea? Because in a few weeks time it will be her fourteenth birthday and she will have to start taking the drug. Her rebelliousness will turn to unquestioning obedience and her dreams will fade into distant memories, then disappear altogether.

Bea doesn’t want them to disappear because night after night she dreams of a ruined city, a place where she is happy, free and surrounded by people like herself, living among the ruins, thinking their own thoughts.

Each morning she awakes with a terrible sense of loss when she realises that none of what she dreamed is true. Except that Dante insists there really is a ruined city; he has proof and he intends to find it.

How can Bea explain any of this to her mother?
Read an excerpt from The Hollow People and view a video of Brian Keaney discussing the book.

My Book, The Movie: The Hollow People.

Learn more about the author and his work at Brian Keaney's website and blog.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue